Introduced on the suburban rail network with an aim to reduce queues at the booking counter, the fate of the coupon validating machines (CVMs) now hangs in the balance.
While on one hand, the Railway Board has decided to phase out CVMs from March next year, the Western Railway (WR) officials, however, are keen on continuing with the ticketing system, albeit with some technical modifications.
WR officials have drafted several letters to the Railway Board, asking them to expedite introducing barcoding in coupon leaflets to prevent fraudulent practices.
“We have written letters to the Railway Board, asking them to expedite the process of starting the barcode system. If the response is positive, then we will install more CVMs within three months of its approval,” said a senior WR official, on condition of anonymity.
Presently, the WR has around 150 CVMs. A few of them have been phased out after they surpassed their shelf life, while the CR has nearly 200 CVMs. WR is keen on the technical upgradation of the CVMs ticketing system, as it is very popular among commuters. WR officials are considering introducing the barcode system, as the CVMs are not connected to their computer network. The CVM in its current form increases the scope of malpractices, wherein passengers can reuse the coupons, as the ink printed by the CVM is quite often faint at times. Railway sources said that the barcode system will register every transaction onto their computer system and this would help them keep a tab on sales. This would allow CVMs to be linked and integrated with the Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) system. Also, the procedure will prevent fraudulent practices.
CR on the fence
Central Railway (CR) officials, on the other hand, are reducing CVMs from their station following the Railway Board’s directive. CR officials claim that they are fine with the order to phase out CVMs, and would not initiate any steps until there is clarity.
“We are waiting for the exact decision that would be taken on CVMs after March 2014. If the deadline to use it is extended, then we will also increase its numbers,” said a CR official, on condition of anonymity. Nearly 10 per cent of the total tickets sold on CR, and 18 per cent of sales on WR are through CVMs.
Number of CVMs installed on the WR rail network
Number of CVMs installed on the CR rail network
What is CVM?
It is a ticketing system wherein a commuter buys a coupon booklet, which has various monetary denominations. Depending on the destination fare, each leaflet is then inserted inside the red-coloured CVM machine that imprints the date and time on it